"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china." Charles Dickens

February 18, 2011

Salmon en croûte

We've had a funny Valentine's week––Momma's been viral, with off and on energy levels, so we've had our Valentine's meal in fits and starts. The big "gala" will be tomorrow after I finish tidying up (code word for putting away some stuff that's been sitting there since Christmas in all of our moving about on the ridge) in the dining room. Our boys have a long weekend ahead, too, for President's Day, so it will be a fun time to potter about, see some friends and do some cooking.

The other night, as the salmon was thawed (we got two great big planks of Irish salmon at Christmas and they froze beautifully), I made the following dish. I looked at several different recipes, some that friends had suggested on Facebook, and decided that I would just sort of make my own as I went along. I also thought it needed a sauce to go with it so I combined some of my favorite ingredients, et voila! It really is rather like a "Salmon Wellington" if you've ever had beef Wellington (something else I'd like to make). Either way, it is easier to make than it looks and you could make it the same day of a dinner party, put it in the fridge, and bake later.

The only thing I would change to this recipe was the portion size as I used four big servings of salmon––my husband couldn't even finish his!––and also underestimated how the puff pastry would expand. However, size aside (and they certainly made a good one-dish meal), these were rich and delicious––a nice, easy treat and you can even make them ahead (or change it up with chicken, shrimp or just make an all-vegetarian version which I did for our youngest, who isn't a salmon fan). You can also make smaller puff pastry squares, too, to serve more people: just cut smaller squares and use less of everything.

Salmon en Croûte a la Farmwife 
Serves 4-8 (depending on size)

• 4-8 portions of salmon (fist-sized and not too thick)
• 2 sheets puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm®––in the freezer section)
• 1 package frozen spinach
• 1 cup mushrooms, finely minced
• 1 large shallot, finely minced
• 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
• 3 Tablespoons butter
• 3 Tablespoons cream or half-and-half
• sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• bit of nutmeg, if desired
• 4 slices Gruyere, Jarlsberg, or Swiss cheese (I used Alpine Lace low-fat Swiss because the Gruyere at Walmart was over $13 for a small amount!)
• 1 egg with a bit of water or milk, for wash (beat together)

Set oven to 400 degrees. Sauté shallot and garlic in the butter. Add minced mushrooms and continue to cook. When mushrooms appear cooked, add spinach (drained or still frozen). Stir until thawed and add cream, sea salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside. [You can also prepare this mixture up to a day ahead.]

Roll out, with a bit of flour, the thawed puff pastry into two 14x14 sheets. Cut each sheet into four equal squares (for a total of 8) and place four on cookie sheet that has been covered in parchment paper. Brush egg wash on the edges on all four sides of each square.

Place one slice of cheese on each square. Top each with an even layer of spinach mixture, equally divided and not extending beyond the cheese, and then a piece of uncooked salmon atop the spinach mixture.

Place last four squares of puff pastry atop each packet, fold up the sides (flute if desired), and brush each packet all over with the egg wash.

Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. While waiting, prepare sauce, below, and serve hot. These would also be excellent with a light side salad of spring greens or cooked asparagus spears.

Frondy dill from one of my favorite magazines, Bon Appétit
Mustard-Dill Cream Sauce

• 1 cup, or more, of cream or half and half (you can also cut in some water)
• A bit of flour and butter
• 1 heaping Tablespoon of grainy Dijon mustard
• 1 heaping Tablespoon of fresh chopped dill (or less if dried)
• Salt and pepper, to taste

In the pan where you prepared your spinach-mushroom mixture––so you can pick up the bits of garlic, spinach, mushroom and shallot still sticking to it––melt butter and whisk in flour (no more than 1/4 cup). Add cream slowly and stir until thickened––cut with a bit of water, or chicken broth, if desired. Add mustard, salt and pepper, dill and more cream (or water/broth) if desired for a thinner sauce. Serve on the side of the salmon packets or pour a bit on each plate, then plate the salmon and drizzle with sauce on top. Add fresh dill sprigs!

You come back when you're ready!


February 16, 2011

Are you ready for Spring?

© Mary Engelbreit
I certainly am! It's not that I don't mind winter any more, I'm just tired of it. And ready for new things: like getting the gardens ready, buying spring plants, starting some seedlings, ordering new chicks (although I hope some will be broody and raise their own), washing and air-drying quilts and putting them on the clothesline. Finishing my cottage-setting-up! I'm also starting to get a little inkling of "kicky legs," as my friend Edie calls them: when you get restless and want to be out and about. The cave bear is emerging.

Our ten-day forecast only has the upper 40s as a low: otherwise it's mid-50s or even 60s! Perfect, on non-rainy days, to be out working the earth, feeling the warm sunshine. It's time. We turned off the heat today in the cottage: no more worries about frozen pipes. I also turned the heat off in the doublewide and am hopeful that the warmer days will sustain us at night, too, with just occasional heat when necessary. Electric heat has quadrupled in Kentucky since we moved here three years ago! Fortunately, we have about four months a year where neither heat or air-conditioning is needed here.

Red bud and Green River Knob, just over the line from us in Casey County.

They say that God is everywhere, 
and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse.
~ Emily Dickinson

Soon birds will be nesting again, bulbs will be popping (I saw the very tips of some daffodils poking out by the chicken house this morning), and the brown, dull landscape will give way to spring's glories! As much as I've come to embrace and welcome each season, there is no time like spring time. It is truly a time of resurrection and new birth and a reaffirming time that the Earth is a forgiving, and rewarding, place to live.

I'm glad that Easter is late this year, too––in fact, I don't recall when it has ever been this late (April 24) in my memory. It will make the spring season seem even longer to celebrate Easter at the end of April. The month will also be shared with our youngest child's 11th birthday, two days after Easter, and our daughter's homecoming, like Persephone, at the end of a long winter ski season in New England. Yes, spring will be even sweeter with all of my chickens home to roost.

Our former garden room in our old New England barn––also known as "the herb room."

You come back when you're ready!

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Well, I couldn't resist this bit of farmhouse-pantry love on eBay this weekend! I had the seller send me the scan ahead of the card as I was so excited to share with all of you (and at In the Pantry, too). It's certainly a World War Two-era card–during a time of rationing and home canning for the war effort.  I believe the woman is even holding a bit of gauze toweling attached to the card. I love the pantry theme, the vintage look, the apron, even the scalloped shelf edging. There are so many relatable things today with the theme of this card: paring down, preserving our own food, economizing. And I have to wonder where little Stanley is today or to whom he sent this Valentine?

I'm not always much on Valentine's Day but this year has been fun planning a menu that we'll enjoy over two days (as errands and a doctor's appointment kept us out longer this morning than we expected––not to mention the repair of our vital JCB!). And I've found some fun, affordable vintage Valentine's on eBay, too. I've been very, very good on eBay these past four years and I need to be good again now that Valentine's frenzy is over––after all, we are conserving here. [I rationalize these Valentine purchases, many of which will be given next year, as recycling and reusing something already made. Yeah, right! Well, kinda.]

You come back when you're ready!


February 13, 2011


We just saw some bluebirds darting around the cottage and two were already nesting in our one box. [Of course, I immediately said, "Honey, we need more boxes!" Fortunately our son Eli is becoming a fair bluebird box maker. But right now there are more pressing things.]

Before you thought of spring,
Except as a surmise,
You see, God bless his suddenness,
A fellow in the skies
Of independent hues,
A little weather-worn,
Inspiriting habiliments
Of indigo and brown.

With specimens of song,
As if for you to choose,
Discretion in the interval,
With gay delays he goes
To some superior tree
Without a single leaf,
And shouts for joy to nobody
But his seraphic self!

               ––Emily Dickinson

"His soft warble melts the ear, as the snow is melting in the valleys around. The bluebird comes and with his warbles drills the ice and sets from the rivers and ponds and frozen ground."                                                                                        ––Henry D. Thoreau, 1859
"Is there any sign of spring quite so welcome as the glint of the first bluebird unless it is his softly whistled song? No wonder the bird has become the symbol for happiness. Before the farmer begins to plough the wet earth, often while snow is still on the ground, this hardy little minstrel is making himself very much at home in our orchards and gardens while waiting for a mate to arrive from the South."
––Neltje Blanchan, Birds Worth Knowing, 1917

February 10, 2011

A Winter's Burning

 The sun is in the south and the days lengthen fast,  And soon we'll sing for the winter that is past,
Now we light the candles and rejoice as they burn,
and Dance the dance of the sun's return.
They cut me down, but I leap up high!
I am life that will never, never die.
I'll live in you and you'll live in me––
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he!
The moon in her phases and the tides of the sea,
the movement of Earth, and the seasons that will be
Are rhythm for the dancing and a promise through the years––
    The Dance goes on through joy and tears.
~from Lord of the Dance

You come back when you're ready!


February 9, 2011

Matin des Pyrénées: France in a Jar

Tucked away in a box of jams, brought from New Hampshire (yes, I tend to hoard jams and gourmet products, but also make them, too––I'm a sucker for a great label and a good import!), I found a jar of "Matin des Pyrénées" Clementine Marmalade. [I also found another of "Rose Petal Jam," from this same brand, that I'm saving for an upcoming "cottage warming" tea with friends.] I believe the literal translation, is "Morning in the Pyrénées," a chain of mountains between France and Spain.

A cup of hot chocolate and a slice of divine chocolate cake at L.A. Burdick.
I'm certain that I got these jars on one of many trips with friends to the fabulous Walpole Grocery right down from L.A. Burdick in Walpole, New Hampshire. Both venues are operated by the same group and feature gourmet offerings, and fine dining and coffee––and the best chocolate––in one small New England village location. A far cry from how rural New Hampshire was when I was growing up, but something I'd come to love and embrace in later years.

Fresh berries in February at Walpole Grocery in Walpole, NH.
Walpole Grocery is a tiny little store with the most amazing produce––year round––cheeses, meats, and specialty gourmet products that can be hard to find when living in the country. It wasn't the kind of place I'd shop every week but several times a year we'd all crave Walpole runs and happily make the scenic hour-plus drive for lunch, shopping and a requisite stop at Stan's [also known as "Stans Dented Cans"] in nearby Westmoreland. And then easily be back for school pick-ups or the dinner hour. I miss those jaunts! [Of course on my last trip to New Hampshire, last February in fact, I went three times in one week!]

My husband loves marmalade and the other day we decided to open this jar to have with English muffins. What had we been waiting for, any way? The ingredients are just clementine juice and rinds, sugar and pectin. It tastes like sunshine in a jar and the label, and entire experience, reminds me of the month I spent in des Hautes Alpes in southeastern France––just above Provence and between the large market towns of Gap and Sisteron––with my great-aunt Pat and her family.

Serres is in des Hautes Alpes, just north of the Provence region of France.

Aunt Pat was my grandmother's twin sister and had moved to France to become a sculptress in the 1930s where she married a Frenchman. During the war she fled to the United States, barely getting across the French border ahead of the Nazis, with her young daughter in tow, and pregnant with her second. After the war she returned to France and purchased a very old multi-story medieval building in the little village of Serres. She lived at the very top of it, while renting the apartments below or reserving them for family. [As far as I know, her daughter, my cousin Anne, still owns it.] From my bedroom window you could practically reach out and touch the house across the street, while the town clock rang hourly, also in view.

Flickr photo showing a typical Serres street scene.
Upon the hill behind Serres were a series of small, terraced gardens owned by people in the town. The entire town is built facing south to maximize the Mediterranean climate. We would often have tea in her little garden (or an herbal tisane) and drink in the warm, dry sun of April in France. It was such a tonic. Our breakfasts usually consisted of some good bread, or croissants, with cheese and jam, or a bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit, nuts and apples chopped into it. Of course there was the requisite bowl of chocolat or café au lait. French food is beautiful in its simplicity and yet complex in flavor and sensory experience.

So I just wanted to share the power of something opened, on a cold winter day, with more snow, in February. Call it Kitchen-Cupboard Travel! It is fun to conjure up such experiences again from my Kentucky kitchen––I am grateful to have had them and it makes being fixed, more or less, in one place at midlife more manageable.

You come back when you're ready!


NOTE: Wally's, in Los Angeles, is the only place, on-line, that I could find these products. I'm sure they can also be found at many gourmet shops across the nation. I'm working on using up our jam stores and will be making more this summer––so not likely to be buying any in the near future.

February 8, 2011

Chicken House at Sunset

More snow, a clipper really, but quite cold behind. February can be so fickle, depending on the day. I am looking forward to Valentine's Day––one, so I can bake with justification! And, because I've been finding vintage valentine's on eBay (and very affordably––although some go crazy). In the meantime we're trying to get better around here or not be sick.

I'm giving this Valentine to my husband: sssh! Don't tell him! [I'll show more here when they arrive.]

You come back when you're ready!


February 6, 2011

The Old Couch

The old couch, broken––
Don't make them like they used to.
It's not the years, it's the mileage.
Held together by a battleship 
slipcover in the front parlor:
well-kept for tea time and ritual,
of a blue that would not fade. 
Brought from Boston to a perfect village,
for decades it sat watching Main Street,
observing, waiting
for those occasions that brought 
her family into the sanctum.
Then stored in a shed of mice and things:
["The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go oft awry," wrote Robert Burns.]
Once removed in the cold winter sunlight,
brought from New England to Kentucky,
her true age revealed:
a broken back, the skin slack and worn.
The faded trappings of a dowager,
soon to be tossed on a funeral pyre.
Why do I mourn tattered silk and old wood?

© Catherine Seiberling Pond

 You come back when you're ready!


February 4, 2011

A Cookbook to be Excited About!

I admit it. I often get excited about cookbooks––new or old. But this one just screamed "buy me" and as I had been very good on Amazon for a very long while (except for Christmas gifts), I decided to purchase this one as a little cottage-warming present to myself. Even though I have yet to prepare anything from it, I am not disappointed.

I have this fantasy that one day we will rent a cottage on a farm in the Irish countryside and that I might attend some courses at Darina Allen's famed Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork. [Rachel Allen is Darina Allen's daughter-in-law and also teaches at the school.] My husband has Irish ancestry––and has been to Ireland many times. I lived in England for a year as a college student, and also on a high school exchange program, and can't believe I didn't get to Ireland!
"This transporting book ... will delight anyone who wants to connect with such endangered domestic tasks as churning butter, foraging, and making homemade apple cider. Allen is an astounding teacher, and her enthusiasm for good things and old-fashioned thriftiness is impossible to resist. She shares stories, recipes, tips, and techniques that will inspire you to craft all sorts of staples that these days usually come in packages from the grocery store. Once you taste your own vinegar and bread and cheese, and get into the swing of making them, chances are, you won't go back to the modern way." Fine Cooking, March 2010 

This cookbook covers so many things that I've thought about making or will want to make now that we are raising our own meats, with many eggs to use and an abundance of fresh items in summer months. There is a significant section on seafood, lamb, beef, pork, eggs, dairy, produce, fruits and baked goods. I found this book, initially, when trying to find a good soda bread recipe the other day. While there are portions of the books I won't be able to use in central Kentucky, most of it will be a regular resource. There are recipes for salting and curing meats, making sausage and preserving fruits. Also, a chapter on foraging for salad greens, berries and mushrooms, even seaweed! Allen is a big advocate of using local produce or what is grown, or raised, on or around your own farm. It is also a lovely compendium of great food writing and beautiful color photography.

A little armchair-travel-cookery-schooling can never hurt, either. The textbook-like cover is sturdy (it's a whopping 600 pages!). At anywhere from $26-40, depending on where you buy it, it's a lot cheaper than flying to Ireland and spending $13,000 on a 12-week cookery course. Well, at least that's how I justified another cookbook for my collection.

You come back when you're ready!


February 3, 2011

Chili and Cornbread

On Sunday, when it was balmy and warm and 55 degrees, our neighbors asked if they could have permission to hunt rabbit on our land. We don't have a problem with that and now my husband and boys want to go rabbit hunting, too. [And let me just say here that our youngest is the spitting image of Elmer Fudd when he has his (play) gun and buffalo-check wool hat on.] Our neighbors were cooking opossum and invited us for opossum dinner. I've never tried it (nor rabbit) and am willing to try most things once. Nothing against opossum but I suspect it requires a certain appreciation. Well, let's just be honest and say I was grateful that we had a turkey at home in the oven.

I respect that many Kentuckians and some of our neighbors hunt wild game to supplement their diets. Squirrel and dumplings have been described as "good eating" to me by many people we've met here. My husband had a friend in New Hampshire who was an old Yankee farmer, an artisan and a regular Euell Gibbons. Willard Richardson thought nothing of cooking up a snapping turtle into soup, having his wife make their eggs into a salad dressing, or catching a mess of woodchuck for a "woodchuck feed" several times a summer. They even roasted an owl. If it moved they would catch it and cook it. I asked my husband, mildly disgusted, "Did it taste like chicken?" "No, it tasted like owl."

All of this talk of wild game––and another cold wave setting in on the backside of that storm––got me thinking of chili for some reason. I have not made chili, or cornbread, in many moons. So, on Groundhog Day, that's just what we had. A nice hearty pot of chili and the best cornbread recipe I've found so far. I thought I'd share my recipe for chili (which is essentially a non-recipe, as I've never used one) and the cornbread recipe that I just tried in one of my favorite little cookbooks, The Little Big Book of Comfort Food [Welcome Books: 2006.]

I'm sorry to say that our boys picked out every kidney bean and only one of them would try the corn bread. They've gotten used to so many favorites dishes in our kitchen that when I do pull out something they don't remember having, or have never had at all, it can be a difficult transition. My cooking has always been in the style of "take it, or leave it" as I'm not in the business of operating a short-order kitchen. That said, I most often make what everyone else likes. [Wait until they try the Indian dishes I want to make out of Modern Spice by Monica Bhide! I'm determined to get my family to love Indian cooking.]

Catherine's Easy Chili

The very best store bought tomatoes and I just used my last can!
Here's how I make chili. I would photograph it but it always looks like Alpo® (well, maybe higher end Alpo®). I used to add corn to my chili but stopped after my husband laughed at me when I thought that "Chili Con Carne" meant "Chili with Corn" [alright, alright, I studied French from K-12, not Spanish!].

  • Brown two medium chopped onions with a bit of garlic (in about a Tbsp of olive oil);
  • Add 1-3 pounds of ground sirloin (ours was dry aged from a steer, now in the freezer) and brown it with the onion mixture (big hunks of meat are fine);
  • Add 3 cans of kidney beans (don't drain);
  • Then add 1 28-ounce can (or 2 14-ounce cans) of crushed tomatoes––I prefer Muir Glen® Organic tomatoes and they are available at Walmart;
  • You can also add a can of diced tomatoes, if desired (or freshly diced);
  • Add to mixture 1 heaping teaspoon salt and 1 Tbsp cumin, 1 Tbsp chili powder and a bit of hot red pepper, if desired, and all to taste. Also, don't forget your freshly cracked pepper.
I like cumin in chili. You can also add a heaping teaspoon of cocoa and maybe a smidge of cinnamon. The nice thing is that once it is cooking and melding, you can adjust your seasonings to taste. If you want a thicker chili, just stir in some cornmeal (perhaps a tablespoon or so). Stir together and heat slowly until nice and hot. Great with cornbread or tortilla chips and cheese on top.

Cornbread [from The Big Little Book of Comfort Food]

This is a moist and slightly sweetened cornbread, "northern" style!

A hearty cornmeal and a bit on the red side.
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar (next time I will use a heaping tablespoon!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you could also use regular milk, plain yogurt or sour cream)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 (8-oz) can of creamed corn (I think the can I used was a bit bigger)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I did not use this but it would have been good)
  • 2 Tbsps vegetable oil
In large bowl, sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, baking soda and chili powder.

In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, creamed corn, cheese and oil. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined (but not too much).

It says to pour this over your prepared chili in a large casserole dish and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. I baked it in a small, greased oblong dish (a bit more than 9x9) for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Test for doneness. 

Great with butter and honey! And chili, of course.

You come back when you're ready! 


February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day by Andrew Wyeth (and a close contender for Christina's World for my favorite Wyeth) captures the stillness and solitude of late winter on a farm and yet the warmer, brighter light of February.

This day will go down as odd, no two ways about it. So, let me begin. I was up until 4am. This is not unusual. I was born a night owl and will probably die one. I am blessed to have a husband who is a morning person, that's for certain. He often feeds the kids breakfast and drives them to school. Maybe it is to make up for the years I ran the carpool for our daughter from our New Hampshire home and he stayed at home with our young boys after I was up to nurse them in the night. I don't know. But it works. [You might ask how a farmwife can possibly not be a morning person? Well, that's another blog posting. Let's just say that these late nights and wee hours of the morning tend to be a winter phenomenon. I'm convinced it is also genetic. My father, and his father, were both night people. It's in my blood.]

I was working on a project and just couldn't stop. The quiet of the night, the stillness of the house, the surrounding darkness, save for the computer screen. Are you with me? If you are a night person you will know this uninterrupted solitude to be a strange comfort.

Image from www.JudyCox.net
At one point I took a break from my writing to go watch something on the television and to finish up the dishes. The wind started to pick up and sounded angry. It was then, at that moment, that I felt very much alone and just wanted to get under the warm quilts piled onto our bed. Before I did that I went to check on my boys, as I always do before I go to sleep. I first thought Henry was talking in his sleep––this strange, piteous cawing sound. Then I realized it was a group of crows who had been confused by the wind. It was eerie and disconcerting to hear them. This was only a few minutes after I was certain that the shingles were going to come off of the roof from a prolonged gust. It was time to go to sleep, groundhog!

After my productive stretch of writing, and a bit of pre-sleep reading (no matter the hour, I read before bed), I slept from about 4am until 10, made some coffee, and did some channel surfing. I don't know why but I landed on "The Jim Bakker Hour" or some such. I thought, for a moment, that it was 1987. There he was, aged since Tammy Faye days, with a Tammy Faye-type woman next to him and another guy. They were all in bathrobes and talking about sleep bands and tips for conducive sleep. I thought the tips made sense but the sight of them in their bathrobes talking about sleep aids made me think I was in an alternative universe. Perhaps televangelism is kind of like that.

Mid afternoon I was tired from all of that writing, not enough sleep, and, well, not doing much of anything after a week of moving stuff around between buildings and sorting stuff out. So I tucked into bed with a memoir I've been reading [Just Kids by Patti Smith about her love affair and decades-long friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe––it won the 2010 National Book Award for nonfiction and I recommend it highly], finished it, and had a long nap. It was the kind of nap where I was so relaxed that I slept deeply and awoke refreshed. I also had a visit with a few old friends and family members and places that I've known. So a journey of sorts––the best kind of dreaming.

No, there was no groundhog in our chili!
I awoke in the late afternoon and the return of my family. I was in a chili mood so made a big vat of it along with a nice cornbread ("northern style"). Now some laundry is in, I'm just finishing up this blog post and the family is asleep again. I will post the recipes tomorrow as I'm hoping to get to bed "at a decent hour" tonight. We'll see. I do blame a lot of this sleep kerfuffle on perimenopause. It's just easier to suggest a reason. I'm glad that my family tolerates my occasional schedule lapses or, should I say, enables them.

You come back when you're ready!


February 1, 2011

Feeling Springy

My friend Anna's former Missouri farm in early May. 
No, and it's not the mattress! As a major, "monster" storm is about to bear down on most of the country, I can't help but think about spring. We are on the warm side of the storm this time around, with the frontal boundary hugging the northern edge of the Ohio River. This often happens in storm world and I find the study of weather patterns endlessly fascinating, totally geeky, and just a tad bit obsessive (just ask my friends and family––but Melissa G., I know that you understand!).

The Great Groundhog Day Monster Storm-in-the-Making––storm hype or reality?

Yesterday I heard my first robin (my friend Joberta saw one this weekend––she calls them "those little harbingers of spring"), and there were thousands of starlings in fields along the ridge. I even saw a pair of sparrows checking out the blue bird nesting box near the cottage and an owl perched on a fence post (the same place where my husband saw five in a row the other day). Those balmy weekend updrafts from the Gulf of Mexico are to blame for this delightful, preseason clamor! Soon it will be colder and more seasonable again. After all, it is just now February. (And where did January go? I think it has been the fastest January on record for me.)

A charming 1920s image, even if her neck is freakishly long.
In thinking ahead towards spring, while still somewhat savoring winter (or what seems to now be Kentucky mud season), I was delighted that my recent article on "Laundry Rooms" arrived in the mailbox today in the March/April 2011 issue of Old-House Interiors. If you like laundry rooms, or doing laundry, or ways to decorate your laundry room, you might enjoy this photo-essay. I enjoyed writing it and styling the photographs that I took, also. [I am also grateful to Carol Spinski of Raised in Cotton, for allowing the editors to use her wonderful laundry room image in the article. There are additional photographs from other photographers, like Eric Roth, in the print version.]

Love the hair, love the clothes, love the rack, love the sink!
I frequently contribute to this publication, as well as essays to its sister publication, Early Homes. You can read the article online here but a more extensive photo layout, and sidebar, is available in the magazine––now on select newsstands (the mega-bookstores should carry it). Writing the article also lulled me into catching up with the laundry––for a bit, at least.

 This photo of Martha is a modern nod to the vintage images displayed here––but dare I say, annoying? But I'd love to get my hands on that belle-époque double laundry sink!

My husband promised me a clothesline for my birthday last October. It's time to take him up on that promise, now that the last cattle-related building is complete. I'm soon going to have a lot of quilts and bedding and old linens packed in boxes that I'd like to be washing and line-drying in the springtime breezes. It will be an easy and welcome task after this wintry season in Kentucky.

You come back when you're ready!